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SOCA02 Brym_Ch6.docx

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Sheldon Ungar

Chapter 6: Networks, Groups, Bureaucracies, & Societies Bureaucracies Bureaucratic Inefficiency  Weber argued→ bureaucracy is most efficient type of 2ndary group  Idea that bureaucracies are efficient may seem very odd→ seen as “Red Tape”  Case of the Challenger space shuttle→ exploded shortly after takeoff [b/c of O-rings] o Some engineers knew but info didn’t reach NASA’s top bureaucrats  Bureaucratic inefficiencies can sometimes have tragic consequences  Why against Weber’s view? 1. When Weber wrote about efficiency of burea, he was comparing w/ older organizational forms  These operated on the basis of traditional practices or charisma of their leaders 2. Weber thought of burea could operate efficiently only in the ideal case  Reality is often messier 4 main criticisms against bureaucracies: 1. Dehumanization: occurs when bureaucracies treat clients as standard cases and personnel as cogs in a giant machine a. This treatment frustrates clients & lowers worker morale 2. Bureaucratic ritualism: involves bureaucrats becoming so preoccupied with rules & regulations that they make it difficult for the organization to fulfill its goals 3. Oligarchy [“rule of the few”]: all bureaucracies have a supposed tendency for power to become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few ppl @ the top of the organizational pyramid a. Problematic in political organizations 4. Bureaucratic inertia: the tendency of large, rigid bureaucracies to continue their policies even when their clients’ needs change a. Ex) Titanic  2 factors underlie bureaucratic inefficiency: SIZE & SOCIAL STRUCTURE o # of dyadic relationships = , n is the # of ppl  Possibility of rivalries, conflict, miscommunication ↑ as # of dyadic relationships ↑  More level, [head→ division→ department] , more difficult communication becomes o Info may be lost, blocked, reinterpreted o Heads may have vague idea abt what is happening “on the ground”  Weber ignored bureaucracy’s informal side & role of leadership in influencing bureaucratic performance Bureaucracy’s Informal Side  Weber concerned mainly w/ formal structure; paid lil attention to social networks that underlie  Hawthorne study showed that employees are members of social networks that regulate output 1  Kanter studied→
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